Avon Descent Committee chairman Jim Smith said the number of entrants in this year’s race had plunged to about 500, down almost 30 per cent on last year.
He put the decline down to the low river levels of 2012. Initial concerns that levels could be as bad as 2010, when competitors were forced to carry their crafts over exposed rocks, were averted last year by an eleventh-hour downpour.
But the low water somewhat damaged the famous white-water race’s reputation.
‘Last year the river levels were extremely low, competitors damaged their crafts and it drove many away,’ Mr Smith said.
He said the Avon River level was only slightly higher this year.
The Avon Descent Committee is praying for rain over the next week to enable the event to go ahead as planned.
‘Our intention at this point is to start the whole race at Northam,’ Mr Smith said.
‘We don’t think we will have to use the low-water contingency plan but if we have no significant rain between now and next weekend, we would most likely have to use it.’
The committee will meet on Friday to decide if the contingency plan will be implemented.
Tackling Descent |No. 32: PAGE 3